District 3 City Council candidate Adam Steiner
District 3 is Precincts 4 and 7
Editor’s Note: If a question is blank, the candidate did not answer it.
Occupation: Technology Integration Specialist for the Holliston Public Schools
Years lived in Framingham: 38
Family (optional): wife, Kerry Dunne, and two children in Framingham Public Schools
Municipal experience: Campaign assistant for state Rep. Barbara Gray; intern for U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II; congressional aide for U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan; Framingham Town Meeting member for five years
Volunteerism: Founder and moderator of the Framingham Government and Community Chat Facebook group; board member of the Massachusetts Council for Exceptional Children; steering committee of the First United community garden
In less than 100 words, why should someone vote you to represent them as a City Councilor?
As a lifelong resident and 5 year town meeting member, I know Framingham and what makes Framingham a special place and I know the issues we’re facing. However, I can also bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to our first city council. Specifically, I will focus on strong collaboration, communication, and innovation. I am the right person to respect our past accomplishments, but also help move us forward with new ideas.
In less than 100 words, describe your district: District 3 represents Framingham’s geographic diversity perfectly from the farms of the Northwest to the thriving businesses and history in Framingham Centre, from the neighborhoods all around our district to Callahan State Park. We also have demographic diversity in terms of age and family and income, all of which make district 3 a truly unique section of Framingham.
Website or Facebook page link: Steinerforframingham.com and https://www.facebook.com/SteinerforFramingham/
Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked to provide one-word answers only. If there is no answer the candidate did not submit a response.
How much would you vote to increase (or decrease) the tax levy in your first year of office? Depends.
Framingham Centre Common is a part of your district. Is it used too much, not enough, or just right for events? Not enough.
What business is needed in your district? A grocery store.
What amenity is lacking in your district? A splash pad.
Should Framingham become a sanctuary city? Can’t answer this in one word.
Would you support the creation of a dog park in Framingham? Absolutely.
Should the dog park be in your district? Maybe.
Would you support the construction of a splash pad in Framingham? Definitely.
Should the splash pad be in your district? Maybe.
Do you support a split tax rate for businesses and homeowners? Yes.
Would you vote for a debt exclusion override to build a new school in Framingham? Yes.
Do you support Framingham State purchasing the Maynard Building for its new partnership with Danforth Art? Probably.
What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Cushing Park
What is your favorite place in your district? (just one): River’s Edge Greenhouse
Editor’s Note: Candidates were given up to 350 words to answer each question. Answers are copy & pasted into this report.
QUESTION #1: In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing your district? How would you go about fixing it as a city councilor?
The biggest issue facing Framingham, and district 3 in particular, is the move to a city form of government and the need to elect a mayor and city councilors with the independent thinking skills to insure a successful transition. It is the job of the city council to insure that district interests are not sacrificed in the name of development and short-term increases in revenue. Therefore, every city councilor needs to see the council as an equal branch of our city government that will need to work collaboratively and critically with the mayor.
Another key issue is the potential for large-scale development, which could as a whole, change the character of Framingham. Every proposal requires an independent evaluation and we must resist the current preference for large-scale apartment complexes to the detriment of our infrastructure and our neighborhoods. The right balance of residential development, retail, and open space will produce needed revenue without sacrificing the unique character of Framingham
QUESTION #2: The Framingham Public Schools represent more than 50 percent of the total budget for the community. Would you support a level-funded budget, a level service budget, and increase in the school budget or a decrease in the school budget? Why?
Our school budget maintains essential services for our students and has helped to create an overall excellent school system. This is essential for protecting the reputation of our city and in guiding our students in becoming responsible citizens.
However, there are areas for greater efficiency, in particular, in non-instructional administrative staff, and in developing our special education programs in order to meet the needs of more students within the district. With that in mind, I would begin with a level service budget and look areas of inefficiency that could provide some savings. I would then examine the rationale for additional initiatives that require funding to determine if they are fiscally manageable and also consistent with the core mission of the district.
QUESTION #3: Traffic is a major issue in your district? How will you work with the neighborhood, other city councilors, and the new mayor to solve the problem.
Traffic is already at critical levels at several intersections in district 3 and collaboration with the mayor and other members of the city council will be essential because this is a city-wide problem. There are two areas of focus for improving traffic levels. The first is to take a broad view of development and think strategically about how develop in different areas will worsen the existing traffic problem. We can do this by encouraging the types of housing and commercial property that don’t generate as much traffic, by developing bike and pedestrian friendly amenities, and by mandating developer mitigation funds to improve roads and intersections.
We also need to work together to develop alternatives to individual automobile use. We need to expand public transportation options, in particular those that use alternative forms of fuel. We need to complete the Framingham section of the Bruce Freeman rail trail, which would run parallel to Edgell Road from Sudbury to Framingham Centre, and work with bike-sharing companies to offer that option on the trail.
QUESTION #4 – What is your view of open space vs economic development for your district? Do you have the same view for the City of Framingham?
Open space is a driver of economic development when it is “active space”, a community resource that brings the residents of Framingham together – and it also attracts visitors from neighboring towns to support our local economy by eating here, buying here, or moving here. Open, active space makes Framingham more attractive to residents and businesses so it has significant economic value. Therefore, we must preserve our open space, develop creative solutions to make it more usable and active, and promote these resources such as Callahan State Park, the farms in and near district 3, Cushing Park, and Framingham Centre so that they are hubs of activity.
QUESTION #5 – Recently there was an attack at Callahan State Park. Do you think Framingham is a safe community? How will your work with police to ensure the safety of residents in your district and the City of Framingham as a whole?
Framingham is very safe overall and our police department does an excellent job. Our police department is especially good at making connections with the community through programs and events for families and with community policing. We need to continue to support our police and to encourage more police presence on foot in neighborhoods to make stronger connections with residents and to see and hear about potential issues before they become criminal.
QUESTION #6 – What is your vision for the tech park, which is a part of your district?
The tech park is a vibrant commercial and manufacturing hub and an important source of revenue and jobs for Framingham. We need to continue to encourage the expansion of our commercial tax base and work collaboratively with the businesses there to encourage additional sustainable expansion and to attract new businesses in emerging fields.
QUESTION #7 – Do you support the proposed development at Millwood golf course? Why or why not?
I voted for Framingham to purchase the golf course, not because I necessarily wanted our city to run a golf course, but because it would give us more control over the future of that parcel of land. Because the vote failed, the land is slated for development so the focus now is on ensuring that what is proposed works for nearby residents, supports our economic vitality, and improves the reputation of Framingham as a place to live, to raise a family, and to retire.
To a degree, the current proposal meets this criteria. Over-55 housing is needed in Framingham, it will produce revenue with a lower additional burden on traffic and schools, and the proposal is for an attractive housing option. However, I do have concerns about the proposal. First, the proposed project is too dense and too close to existing homes on Grove Street. Second, the open space that is included will largely be unusable scrub brush and not active. Third, there is some question as to the natural conditions of the golf course in terms of wetlands. It is my hope that we can work with the developer to address these issues.
QUESTION #8 – Do you support the proposed development at Staples? Why or why not?
I do not support the proposed development. We need to preserve this area of Framingham for commercial and industrial uses. Using a large section for residential property may have offer some short-term benefits, but down the road when the pendulum has swung away from apartments to commercial, we are going to regret losing this potential space.
In addition, the lack of any additional amenities – even a coffee shop – would make it highly likely that residents would pour into the Rt. 9/Crossing Blvd. intersection that is already challenging in the after work hours.
QUESTION #9 – Do you think Framingham is family friendly? Why or why not? What would you do to do make the community more inviting to families? What can be done in your district?
Overall, Framingham is family friendly – we have excellent schools, many activities, amenities, and restaurants that are kid-friendly, and we are relatively inexpensive in terms of housing compared to many towns around us. However, there is room to do more in terms of open, active space and amenities.
We do have great parks in Framingham including Callahan State Park in district 3 and several kid-friendly restaurants such as Kelly’s and the IHOP.
However, we would benefit from enhancing some of our open space so that it offers more to families. This would include a splash pad, additional accessible playgrounds, and basketball/gagaball etc. courts. In addition, we need to work with our recreation department to find a way to expand the open dates of our public beaches.
QUESTION #10 – In the last 18 months, the Danforth museum and art school was evicted from its home of decades, the Framingham Artists Guild had to find a new home, and recently dozens of artists including the Fountain Street Fine Arts gallery have left Framingham. How would you support the arts in Framingham as a city councilor?
I am cautiously optimistic that the recent agreement between Framingham State University and the Danforth Museum will keep the local cultural resources of the museum and its classes available to residents in the Jonathan Maynard Building in Framingham Centre. The details will be presented to town meeting, but this may be a partnership that benefits everyone.
We need to be more aggressive in finding grants to support our local artists and enable them to share their work with the community. We also need to bring businesses and artists together to find ways that private industry can help keep the arts vibrant in Framingham.
QUESTION #11 – How will you make sure that residents in your neighborhood have a voice in the new City of Framingham, if elected? Give specifics.
As district city councilor, I will welcome resident feedback in as many ways as possible. This will include the use of social media to connect with residents, something has been missing from our town government. I will also have regular open “coffee talks” where I will be available for drop in discussion. I will be accessible by phone and by e-mail. Further, I will push for a more welcoming, pleasant environment at our city hall. Right now, the Memorial Building is confusing to navigate and there is rarely help in the hallways. We can expand volunteer support so that every person entering city hall is welcomed and guided.
QUESTION #12: How will you get residents in your neighborhood more involved in their community? Give specifics.
We need to create the kind of community events that bring people together such as expanding the excellent music series at McAuliffe Library to include other types of music. I would also like to see us create a local restaurant loyalty card to encourage residents to stay in Framingham when they go out to eat.
Lastly, the Nobscot Plaza development must include open, active space and businesses that will bring my neighbors together.
QUESTION #13: Framingham is a community of full of social, economic and cultural diversity. What can you do as a councilor to not only represent your district but to the bring the nine districts together as one City?
We must develop unique amenities all around Framingham that will bring people together just like Cushing Park. I would love to see splash pads, dog parks, and accessible playgrounds in all areas of town so that families will come together and discover areas that I haven’t been to before. We should continue to develop townwide fairs and festivals so that Framingham Centre, Gallagher Park, and other town parks are used more frequently.
At the same time, we need to make Framingham more accessible. We need expanded public transportation and more bike and walking trails including a full implementation of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail. We should partner with bike sharing companies to bring these programs to key places including Framingham State University and on our bike paths.